Sharing & Caring COST Action: From Sharing to Caring – Examining Socio-Technical Aspects of the Collaborative Economy

The terms “Sharing Economy” or “Collaborative Economy” have been commonly used in recent years to refer to a proliferation of initiatives, business models and forms of work. The main objective of this action is to develop a European network of actors (including scholars, practitioners, communities and policy makers) focusing on the development of collaborative economy models and platforms and on social and technological implications of the collaborative economy through a practice-focused approach.

The specific aims of the action are:
• To develop a deeper understanding of the collaborative economy phenomenon in all its aspects, by studying in-depth the socio-technical systems and human practices involved, comparing and reflecting upon local, regional, national and international initiatives;
• To discuss and critique elements of the current discourse on the collaborative economy, and proposing a richer definition and characterisation of the phenomenon;
• To formulate a European research agenda for the socio-technical aspects of the collaborative economy, including specifically the design of future technological platforms, the technical infrastructure, their legal, ethical and financial implications;
• To articulate a European research perspective on the collaborative economy, based on EU values of social innovation, and in line with the Europe 2020 strategy objective to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020.

We pay special attention on the following aspects.
Collaborative Economy Practices and Communities: We aim to produce an online repository of case studies, as well as initiating a directory of people involved in various aspects of the European collaborative economy. By bringing together different case studies conducted by the partners on practices in the context of the collaborative economy and comparing them to other related works from the domain, we aim at building a basis for developing a multi-faceted view on sharing and caring practices and develop a theoretical framework to interpret and classify the different cases. The goal is to provide a systematic and comprehensive theoretical perspective that aligns the collected findings and can serve as a taxonomy and guide for further research.

Platforms for the Collaborative Economy: To achieve this goal, we will rely upon the set of case studies collected by the previous step, focusing on the technical features and infrastructures that support the collaborative practices and community aggregation. Indeed, we will create a synthesis of the mechanisms that are technically available in relation to their effects on collaboration and economic relation. They will be studied not only in their positive support to collaboration but also in their constraints and limitations, observing how people practically overcome such limitations.

Impacts of the Collaborative Economy: The aim here is twofold. First, to develop a methodology to assess the ethical, legal, and social consequences of the emerging collaborative economies, and then, to identify guidelines for the design of new platforms that consider the interrelation of practices and artefacts with ethical, legal and social issues.

Mechanisms to Activate and Support the Collaborative Economy: That implies questioning the power structures they enact, the way value is produced and distributed, how production is organized, and how existing institutions support the collaborative practices at stake. Summarizing, it means to understand both the governance of collaborative economy and the way work is organized, in order to provide policy briefs that can promote the strengthening of inclusive cases of collaborative economy.

The action will produce online resources, including publications, offering a comprehensive view of the current European collaborative economy, and socio-technical and policy recommendations for the future.

Project duration: 24 March 2017- 23 March 2021

More information:

Contact person at UTA: Kostas Stefanidis